The six interprofessional organisations representing the Spanish livestock and meat sector (ASICI, AVIANZA, INTERCUN, INTEROVIC, INTERPORC and PROVACUNO) have shown their unity of action and commitment to value and defend the interests of the entire chain and guarantee its sustainability and economic, environmental and social resilience in order to contribute to the recovery and stability that Spain needs to face the challenges of the future.
In the framework of two of the most representative events for the sector, FIGAN 2021, the International Fair for Animal Production held in Zaragoza, and the 21st Aecoc Congress of Meat and Processed Meat Products taking place in Lleida, Javier López and Alberto Herranz, representing the six interprofessional organisations, have spoken and have defended that "only together will we be able to face the challenges and opportunities that the sector will experience in the coming years within the framework of Strategies such as From Farm to Fork or the European Next Generation EU Funds, as well as important phenomena such as climate change or the demographic challenge" .
Javier López has indicated in FIGAN that "the six interprofessional chain, from a position of leadership in the sector, have joined forces in an unprecedented collaboration in our economic sphere to assume new commitments that act in favour of the economic and social reconstruction of Spain and contribute to overcoming common challenges" .
For his part, Alberto Herranz said at the Aecoc Congress that the livestock-meat chain is an important ecosystem that generates opportunities and we want it to be even more so. "Throughout the country, two million people live from the livestock-meat chain, with a majority presence in rural areas, in many municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants, which are the most affected by depopulation. Livestock farming contributes more than 15,000 million euros to agricultural production, while the meat industry has a turnover of more than 26,000 million euros, which makes it the leader of the entire food sector with 22.6% of the total, and a contribution to the country's balance of trade with almost 9,000 million euros in exports," he said.
Herranz emphasised, concluding that "all of us who form part of the livestock-meat chain are committed to contributing to the economic progress of our country" .
The scope of the sector ranges from the international to the local level, since maintaining livestock farming in the rural environment generates economic activity at the local level through the more than 400,000 active livestock farms and the companies established in the territory, often in municipalities of less than 5,000 inhabitants, which are in a particularly serious situation as a result of depopulation, making it a fundamental agent for the structuring of the territory and for tackling depopulation.
Industry exemplarity and commitment to stability
The Spanish agri-food sector, with the livestock and meat sector at the forefront, has demonstrated throughout the pandemic period that it is acting with a sense of state to ensure the availability of products for the entire population.
After the long period of pandemic, the time has come for economic recovery, in which public and private entities have collaborated together for the economic and social progress of the country. And the livestock-meat chain is committed to the transformation of the entire value chain to increase its competitiveness, economic and environmental sustainability, as well as its digitalisation capabilities, as we will be able to see in the development of the next agri-food PERTE that the Spanish Government will design in close collaboration with the sector and the chain.
In this sense, public policies play a fundamental role in the reactivation of the different sectors, such as the agri-food sector, which, after a great effort in recent years, need a stable context in order to make progress in their activities. In order to maintain export capacity and productivity, it is essential to maintain a stable fiscal framework, avoiding distorting effects on the meat chain as a whole, which would lead to regressive impacts, reducing its income by several hundred million euros, and clearly regressive in nature by taxing lower-income households in particular.
Commitment to food systems, sustainability and health
The six interprofessionals of the livestock-meat chain are working on the challenges and goals to be achieved in our sector in order to address the best possible solutions and proposals for the future with consensus and commitment.
The chain wants to continue contributing to the sustainability of the environment and food systems, as they have stated in the framework of the UN Food Systems Summit, which will take place tomorrow.
Livestock-meat production is a fundamental and irreplaceable pillar of the World Food System, and is also essential as a protector and conservator of the numerous models of biodiversity and natural and cultural heritage that we have in Spain.
The livestock-meat sector is part of the solution to environmental challenges, aware that, like any human activity, its activity has an environmental footprint. At the same time, the sector states that, as official data from the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge show, livestock farming is not the main cause of climate change, representing only 7.8% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our country, while sectors linked to the production and use of energy generate almost three quarters of these GHGs.
To address environmental challenges, the chain has long been working and investing significant resources, talent and innovation to achieve a model of sustainable, circular livestock production, aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and neutral in emissions, developing new production techniques with a lower environmental impact at all points of production.
It is undoubtedly important and necessary that food is produced in an environmentally sustainable way, but also that such food is healthy, affordable and equitable. The sector works for the promotion of healthy, varied and balanced diets that include vegetables and animal products such as meat, following the consumption recommendations expressed by Spanish and international agencies, such as the WHO, which states that "foods of animal origin are the best sources of high quality nutrients".
Diets that contain a base of fruit and vegetables and that include an adequate consumption of meat, an indissoluble product of the Mediterranean diet, which forms part of our gastronomic and social culture, and which provides the population with affordable proteins of high nutritional value, as well as numerous minerals and vitamins, such as iron, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, selenium, magnesium and vitamin B12, which allow us to stay healthy.
Commitment to sustainability and digitisation and commitment to the territory
The livestock-meat chain is developing an important project for the future and to strengthen competitiveness, proposing investments in the areas of sustainability, digitalisation and the circular economy.
To this end, more than 1,600 companies and livestock farmers, 73.6% of which are SMEs, coordinated under the six interprofessional organisations of the chain, have committed more than 5.1 billion euros in a project linked to European funds, which has received recognition from the Ministries of Industry and Agriculture as the best private project received by the Government, for its ambition in the ecological and digital transformation that it will mean for the sector.
This project will reduce the carbon footprint by 30% for final products and will achieve milestones such as reducing ammonia levels by 28%, water footprint by 18%, energy consumption on farms by 38% and in meat industries by 22% and limiting the use of animal feed by 15%.
This project will also strengthen territorial cohesion and the promotion of rural Spain, as it will have a significant impact on all the Spanish Autonomous Communities, especially in small municipalities.
And in this sense, the six interprofessionals in the chain have also set up the Livestock and Meat Municipal Network, which is a forum in which Spanish municipalities with a significant presence of livestock and meat activity can share concerns, challenges and opportunities, giving them back the prominence they deserve in the national debate and defending the commitments of the sector, which have such a positive impact on these territories, generating activity, employment and fixing the population in small towns. It should not be forgotten that in Spain the chain locates more than half of its activity in municipalities of less than 5,000 inhabitants.
To this end, a collaboration agreement has been signed with the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) which will provide the Network with support, dissemination and promotion capacity, and numerous town councils in regions such as Extremadura, Cantabria, Andalusia, Murcia, Galicia and Castilla-La Mancha are already formalising their participation in this project.
ASICI. The Interprofessional Association of the Iberian Pig brings together producers and processing industries of Iberian products.
AVIANZA. The Spanish Interprofessional Association of Poultry Meat brings together farms and production centres as well as cutting and processing plants.
INTERCUN. The Interprofessional Organisation for the promotion of the rabbit sector is made up of representatives of the rabbit production branch and rabbit meat processing and marketing companies.
INTEROVIC. The Interprofessional Organisation of Sheep and Goat Meat represents the producers of this livestock branch and the industrialists and marketers who generate and distribute the derived products.
INTERPORC. The Organización Interprofesional Agroalimentaria del Porcino de Capa Blanca represents all the sectors of the value chain of the white pig: production, processing and marketing.
PROVACUNO. The Interprofessional Agri-Food Organisation for Beef and Veal is made up of the main organisations of the producer sector and the processing/marketing sector.